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AB de Villiers Clears Air on World Cup Offer, Insists Didn’t Demand Return

Former South Africa captain AB de Villiers finally broke his silence on the ugly drama that transpired on his offer to return to international cricket, just a couple of days before the Proteas squad for the ICC World Cup was announced. The conversation that took place between De Villiers, skipper Faf du Plessis and coach Ottis Gibson was leaked to the media a day after South Africa’s defeat to India in a World Cup game last month.

Cricketnext Staff |July 13, 2019, 7:55 AM IST
AB de Villiers Clears Air on World Cup Offer, Insists Didn’t Demand Return

Former South Africa captain AB de Villiers finally broke his silence on the ugly drama that transpired on his offer to return to international cricket, just a couple of days before the Proteas squad for the ICC World Cup was announced. The conversation that took place between De Villiers, skipper Faf du Plessis and coach Ottis Gibson was leaked to the media a day after South Africa’s defeat to India in a World Cup game last month.

When de Villiers announced his international retirement, in May 2018, he was asked privately by a person within the Cricket South Africa (CSA) if ‘the door was still open’ for him to play the World Cup. de Villiers said yes then, but insisted that he did not push for late inclusion when he contacted du Plessis.

With South Africa’s campaign coming to an end before the semifinals in the World Cup as the side finished seventh on the points table with just three wins, de Villiers cleared the air by making a detailed statement on social media.

“First, I announced my retirement from international cricket in May 2018 because I wanted to reduce my workload and spend more time with my wife and young sons. Some have insisted I was motivated purely by money. They are wrong. In truth, I have turned down many lucrative offers to play around the world, and have cut the time spent away from home each year from eight months to just over three months,” de Villiers wrote in the statement.

"During the weeks and months that followed, there was no formal contact between Cricket South Africa or the Proteas and me. I didn't call them, and they didn't call me. I had made my decision and the Proteas moved on, enjoying success under the expert guidance of coach Ottis Gibson and the outstanding captaincy of Faf du Plessis.

"Faf and I have been friends since we were at school together and, two days before the World Cup squad was announced, I contacted him for a chat. I had been in decent form during the Indian Premier League and casually repeated what I had said when asked a year earlier, that I was available if required... but only if required.

"I made absolutely no demands at all. I certainly did not try to force my way into the World Cup squad on the eve of the tournament, and did not expect to be included. There was no burning issue from my side, and no sense of injustice,” the statement added.

South Africa coach Gibson had said de Villiers had ‘left it too late’ to make himself available for selection for the squad.

"Personally I suspect there are a lot of people wanting AB to be here (more) than AB himself," Gibson had said last month. "If he wanted to be here he would be here."

de Villiers revealed that he did not speak out immediately after the news broke was because he did not want to distract South Africa's World Cup campaign. However, he was making the statement now because of the criticism that followed.

"I continue to be asked to comment on the disclosure, and distortion, of a private conversation that took place just before the squad was announced and, for the benefit of anyone who may have felt let down, would like to explain what happened,” the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) batsman said in the statement.

"Then, out of the blue, on the evening after the Proteas lost to India, suffering a third successive World Cup defeat, elements of our private conversation were disclosed to the media, and distorted to cast me in the worst possible light.

"The story was not leaked by me, or anybody associated with me, or by Faf. Maybe someone wanted to deflect criticism. I don't know.

"As a result, I was unfairly described as arrogant, selfish and indecisive but, with all humility, my conscience is clear. I retired for honest reasons and, when asked if I could be available for the World Cup, agreed to keep the door open. In the event, understandably, the team moved on. No problem. I am not angry with anybody,” de Villiers wrote.

Despite the ‘unpleasant and unnecessary saga’, de Villiers said he would always continue to support South African cricket.

"Now, at this stage of my life, I would like to continue spending time with my family and to play in selected T20 tournaments in SA and around the world.

"I have been massively proud to have played for, and indeed captain, my country on the cricket field. My relationships with the Protea players remain as strong as ever, and I will always be available to support and assist the next generation.

"Lastly, in stating my side of this unpleasant and unnecessary saga, I want to stress my continuing support for the team and the game that has shaped my life and provided me with so many lasting friendships and incredible opportunities,” the statement said.

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